The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has finally called off its warning strike, four days after the action was spiritedly carried out across the country and attarcyed some response from Nigerians, in spite of the refusal of some affiliate unions, including National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas workers as well as its affiliate, the Trade Union Congress, TUC, to join the collective action.
A communique issued after a national Executive Committee of the NLC on Sunday, May 22, 2016, had commended Nigerian who participated in the strike last week and added that that the union would resume dialogue with the Nigerian government to explore possibilities of reversing the fuel price and other palliatives that would ease the suffering of Nigerians.
The Ayuba Wabba-led faction of the NLC made the declaration to suspend the strike official, in a statement which reads thus: “After an exhaustive deliberation, NEC noted its protest action was informed by the twin issues of the unjustified and illegal hike in electricity tariff and increase in the pump price of petroleum products.
“In consideration of the above, NEC after due consultation with its constituents resolved to suspend with immediate effect, the action it commenced on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. The action is thus hereby suspended.”
Wabba said the union will resume negotiations with government, which officially commenced with the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who reportedly appealed Labour to call off the strike two days earlier.
Tinubu had, in that peace parley, enjoined the NLC leadership to suspend the strike in the best interest of the nation and trust the Buhari-led administration as one determined to put the country on the path of progress.
The APC leader said unlike the administration of Goodluck Jonathan, the Buhari-led government would ensure the judicious use of whatever revenue that accrues from the fuel hike to put the country on the path of development and progress in line with the APC’s change mantra.
The full Communique reads thus:
THE COMMUNIQUÉ OF THE NIGERIA LABOUR CONGRESS ISSUED ON SUNDAY, MAY 22, 2016.
An emergency meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) held today, Sunday, May 22, 2016, at Bolton White Hotels, Abuja on the on-going protest action against the increase in pump price of petroleum products and hike in electricity tariff. NEC reviewed the protest action and its impact across the nation, noting the sacrifices of its members, response of the generality of Nigerians, government’s attitude and the brutality of the police in some states. NEC took special notice of the Ebonyi State Police Command where our members were intimidated, harassed, arrested and detained unjustly.
After an exhaustive deliberation, NEC noted its protest action was informed by the twin issues of the unjustified and illegal hike in electricity tariff and increase in the pump price of petroleum products. NEC adjudged the protest action to be a success in spite of both internal and external challenges.
NEC reiterated the correctness of its position on the twin issues of electricity tariff hike and the astronomical increase in the pump price of PMS and the hardship they portend for Nigerian masses.
NEC also acknowledged that the temptation to compare the strike action with that of 2012 could be compelling but that the scenario had changed as both the actors and the terrain were different.
NEC said before it had embarked on the action, it had anticipated a probable outcome and therefore was not surprised by government’s negative response. Nonetheless, it felt fulfilled by having the presence of mind and courage to identify its mission and fulfilling it, stressing that if a similar situation arises again, it will still rise and stand with the people.
NEC, therefore, commended those who took part in the action in one way or the other and reaffirm its commitment to the struggle. The action, it reiterated was taken in the best interest of the poor and the weak and in drawing government’s attention to the dangers of relying on the importation of petroleum products as a sustainable strategy for making available petroleum products. It expressed the belief that in the days ahead, time would prove its position right.
Congress singled out for commendation, its state councils, affiliates and other patriotic Nigerians who at very short notice picked up the gauntlet for this struggle. Congress commends the leadership of the National Assembly and All Progressives Congress led by Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
In consideration of the above, NEC after due consultation with its constituents resolved to suspend with immediate effect, the action it commenced on Wednesday, May 18, 2016. The action is thus at this moment is suspended.
Congress will resume negotiations with the government on the twin issues of the hike in electricity tariff and an increase in the pump price of petroleum products and any other issue that may arise thereof.
It similarly remains committed to genuine dialogue within the framework of internationally established and recognized principles of representation.
The Congress will continue to resist wrong legislations, policies, and programmes and will always act in the best interest of Nigerians as it remains the only pan-Nigerian organisation not affected by religion, region, creed, partisanship or primordial sentiments.
The Congress urges the government to play by the rules of its engagement with its constituent parts, stakeholders, and non-state actors as proof of its commitment to deepening our democracy and also in acknowledgment of the well-worn credo that what goes around, comes around.
The Congress also urges the citizenry to be vigilant at all times as the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
The Congress commends all Nigerians for their understating and support.
- Comrade Ayuba Wabba, President 2. Dr. Peter Ozo-Eson, General Secretary
Recall that the Ayuba Wabba led NLC, had after three days of what it called nationwide warning strike last week, the Nigeria Labour Congress had earlier scheduled a meeting of its National Executive Council, NEC, for Monday, Mat 23, 2016, in Abuja.
The meeting on Monday had been expected to be preceded by the National Administrative Council NAC, an organ of elected officers and the NEC, comprising representatives of all the Congress affiliates across the country, scheduled for Sunday, May 22, also in Abuja.
The warning strike began on Wednesday following government’s failure to accede to its demands to revert to the old fuel price of N86.50 per litre as well as reverse the electricity tariff hike imposed by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission last January.
Although well meaning Nigerians have been making entreaties to the NLC to prevail on its members to shelve the strike, the scheduled meeting appears to be a forum for labour to consider these pleas, review its position and consider calling off the strike and return to the negotiation table with government on their demands.
NLC President, Ayuba Wabba, had equally hinted that Sunday’s meeting would discuss the proposal by a national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, during his visit to the NLC secretariat in Abuja on Friday to appeal for the calling off of the strike.
During the visit, Mr. Wabba had said the decision to suspend or call off the strike could only be taken by the appropriate organ of the congress empowered to negotiate with government.
Key affiliates of the NLC, including the influential oil workers’ unions, namely the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, PENGASSAN, and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, NUPENG, opted not to join the strike.
This was in addition to the fact that the Federal government had earlier reached an agreement with the Joe Ajaero led faction of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), on Monday, May 16, to set up a committee to resolve agitations over the new pump price of petrol.
The committee had been given a terms of reference mandate to address the downward review of the pump price, determine new minimum wage and consult with the PPPRA for effective price regulation of petroleum products.The committee is to submit its report in two weeks.